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Israeli-Palestinian Tensions High Following Attacks

Israeli-Palestinian Tensions High Following Attacks
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Israeli-Palestinian Tensions High Following Attacks

More Israeli security forces were deployed Tuesday after clashes with Palestinian demonstrators and knife attacks in which an Israeli soldier and civilian were killed.

These followed incidents in which Palestinians drove vehicles into pedestrians at public transportation stops, killing two people and injuring a dozen more. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night had promised a tough response.

"We will fight against the incitement from the Palestinian Authority with agents from extremist Islam," Netanyahu said. "We will act decisively against the rioters calling for Israel's annihilation."

Palestinians accuse Netanyahu's government of incitement by failing to stop visits by right-wing Israelis to the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, or Temple Mount, which is revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Anger over what is seen as the Israeli government's neglect of predominantly Arab East Jerusalem is another major factor, according to the director of the International Peace and Cooperation Institute, Rami Nasrallah.

"We have a crisis in Jerusalem, and the crisis is mainly related to the education issue, to the socioeconomic reality of the Palestinians," Nasrallah said. "These people have no hope, and no one talks about this."

Some are calling the attacks the beginning of a third intifada, or uprising. But the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in April has changed the situation, said retired Hebrew University professor Mati Steinberg.

"The two earlier intifadas took place in the context of some expectation that these uprisings will lead towards a kind of a (political) settlement," Steinberg said. "Now this time, it's in the context of total despair."

Nasrallah said many in East Jerusalem, especially young Arabs, increasingly feel they have nothing to lose.

"People are concerned about their future in Jerusalem," he said. "You see the boycott of Israeli products, of Israeli (establishments). You see more and more segregation and separation in Jerusalem. You can feel the tension in the air."

Nasrallah noted that any dispute over Jerusalem's holy sites angers Muslims worldwide. And he worries that continued clashes could turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a political dispute into a religious one.